"Do not take yourselves so lightly, you have a role to play in our country."
These were the inspiring words of South African singer, Vicky Sampson, at the opening ceremony of Stellenbosch University's Diversity Week on the Rooiplein. Sampson sang her hit song, African Dream, cheered on by a crowd of staff and students.
"We must start loving each other, treating each other with respect, dignity and Ubuntu," Sampson said.
Monday's ceremony was kicked off with an African Flagwalk organised by the Postgraduate and International Office. Countries represented at the flag walk were Kenya, Lesotho, Swaziland, Zimbabwe, Rwanda, Namibia, Uganda and Nigeria.
On the Rooiplein, a "Glocal Village" of specially erected tents and stalls created a sense of community, where staff and students had the opportunity to try out traditional dishes from among others Lesotho, Zimbabwe and Nigeria. The dishes included seeds from the baobab fruit, called Mauyu, from Zimbabwe and Akara, a bean patty from Nigeria.
Other big names in the entertainment industry who have been lined up for Diversity Week include Desmond and the Tutus, Dans Dans Lisa, Mario Ogle and Crazy White Boy, as well as social commentators and comedians Chester Missing, Anne Hirsch, Deep Fried Man and Kagiso KG Mokgadi. They will be joined on stage by a variety of local performers.
This year also sees a repeat of daily activities that worked well last year, including multi-coloured beaded bracelets that Maties can use to depict their multifaceted identity, and graffiti tables where they can freely express their thoughts on diversity.
New elements include, substantive discussions on such topics as inclusivity, gender, as well as staff and student culture, facilitated by the Centre for Mentor, Tutor and Leadership Development; a "lost sock" project to draw attention to aspects of the diversity debate that sometimes disappear, presented by the Listen, Live and Learn initiative; a penalty shootout between blindfolded soccer teams representing the African country of their choice; and the Student Representative Council's selfie booth for heaps of photo fun.
On the Diversity Week menu for today (Tuesday, 30 September) is Hang Out With Your Dean from 11:30-12:30 on the Rooiplein, where Maties will get the opportunity to discuss issues such as diversity, inclusivity and a welcoming culture in their respective faculties.
For those of you in the mood for some belly laughs don't miss out on comedian Anne Hirsch who will be entertaining the crowd from 13:00-14:00 and be sure attend Diversity Week "Comedy Night" from 18:00-21:00 with among others Chester Missing and Kagiso KG Mokgadi.
Diversity Week comes to and end on 3 October.